1 of 62: Race-Prepped 1LE 1989 Camaro

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

For anyone who follows Camaros, the 1LE package has to stand up the hairs on the back of your neck. Introduced in the 90s as a means of competing in the wildly popular “Showroom Stock” racing class, checking the 1LE box meant getting some serious performance hardware straight from the factory. This 1989 Camaro is one of 62 1LE package cars made for 1990 and can be found here on eBay still wearing its period racing regalia. 

A number of modifications were made by the factory to alleviate known weaknesses in Camaros that spent their days at the track: poor braking, fuel starvation, a tall fifth gear – all of these issues were remedied, along with weight savings measures at every corner and a suspension set up for track use. It turned the otherwise decent street car into a downright competitive track rat, just by checking a $700 option box at the dealer.

For more information on these factory racers, check out this Camaro Source page on the 1LE package – great info here. This 1LE car was converted in ’95, so it’s had more than a few laps on the track. Thankfully, this example is an A/C delete car, as you could spec your 1LE with air conditioning if desired. The VIN remains intact and the seller has already applied for a new title, two elements of race car ownership that the next owner won’t have to worry about.

The 1LE cars are historically significant to Chevrolet, as it represented a commitment to both amateur and professional racing teams. Showroom Stock remains one of the most exciting forms of racing, pitting driver against driver and not driver against car. Although some may say a stock 1LE is more desirable, finding one that has survived doing what it was built to do is more interesting to me; hopefully, this IROC enjoys many more years on the track.

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Comments

  1. RayT Member

    This has evolved considerably from its 1LE “Showroom Stock” days. “A Sedan” is a different kettle of fish, allowing more modifications and competition-worthy upgrades which, in all probability, means many original 1LE parts are no longer on the car….

    I’m sure it still has value to a vintage racer, but those looking for a “real” 1LE aren’t going to find it here.

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    • Jeff Lavery Jeff Lavery Staff

      Eh, I’d still argue it has value as originally being ordered as a 1LE car. I see your point, but it’s safe to say a total purist won’t be bidding on this one. Buy a race car, get some interesting provenance as a bonus.

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  2. Steve R

    Any potential buyer that’s planning on racing the car would be wise to check what classes the car is currently legal to race. As alluded to above, its current configuration won’t get you anywhere near the starting grid of a showroom stock class.

    Steve R

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  3. Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

    I considered the 1LE as a new car purchase back in the day. I ended up with an ’89 Mustang LX 5.0 that I still own today – the only new car I ever bought. I love my Mustang but I definitely perk up at talk of a 1LE Camaro. I liked the idea of having a “secret advantage” with a factory package that not everyone knew about.

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    • RayT Member

      I drove a 1LE for a couple of weeks back in the day, Todd. I don’t think you would have been disappointed. The 5.0 ‘Stang was more to my taste too, but the 1LE package did very good things to the Camaro.

      The real “secret advantage” to a Camaro — or any GM performance product back then — was to drive one that had first been shipped to GM’s Arizona Proving Ground. Those were — shall we say — optimized with very stout engines and perhaps a bit of extra care expended on chassis fine-tuning. That was, sadly, not an option for retail buyers, but most of the hi-po GM cars seen in enthusiast magazines had made that extra trip.

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      • Rutledge

        The lb9 or l98 engines on the cars that were being raced in the players challenge or Firestone firehawk challenge or scca were typically balanced and blueprinted by Bilmar race engines or Traco etc and instead of making 230 or 245hp were closer to 275-300 hp🎽

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  4. michael streuly

    Yes i want one

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  5. al8apex

    ummm, 1988 was the 1st year for the 1LE option on the f bodies, not just the Camaro.

    NO 1LE was ever available with a/c UNTIL the B4C police package was introduced in 1991. The B4C (police car) Camaro (not available for the Firebird) was avail with a/c, so you got the best of both worlds, awesome handling, brakes and a cool ride, as ALL 91-92 B4C’s included the 1LE suspension package.

    The 230hp LB9 305 5 speed manual was only 15 hp less than the 245 hp 350 automatic

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  6. Mark

    In 89, there was 111 “1LE” optioned Camaros made. The first 76 went to Canada with 74 sent to the Player’s Race series, and the first two sent to GM Engineering. All Canadian cars were 305/5 speed. The 35 remaining cars went to the US. Like the one above, some ended up going racing.

    Mark.

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  7. Jason

    Great cars that were made better by checking a box, just under powered. I see the owner chose to lose the TPI as i did when i put a 383 in my 89 IROC. I do miss that car. Traded it in on my first new car, a 97 Z28

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